Original title: Zankoku hanten
Director: Kôji Kawano
Starring: Mihiro, Miho Funatsu, Yûsuke Iwata, Kesuke
Burrowing out of the seedy underbelly of Japan comes this low-budget horror-comedy that shows that the Japanese are still the undisputed masters of twisted cinema, and going strong!
While not in the same league as the soon to be reviewed Tokyo Gore Police, which is a B-movie concept with A-grade production, Cruel Restaurant is more your typical B Movie with the associated production values.
You will notice this especially in the first five minutes, but hang in there. The movie gets better as it proceeds, and you won't be noticing the production anyway once the brutality, gore, sex, and humor kicks in. If you've got a twisted sense of humor like me you'll be too busy laughing to notice.
This really is one hell of a movie - it has everything that you won't see in a Hollywood movie, and it has it in spades. Needless to say, this one isn't for the kids. But for lovers of extreme Japanese cinema, this is a must-see.
Oh, and I should also mention that it stars Mihiro, who is actually Mihiro Taniguchi, the very cute Japanese model/singer/actress/pornstar (which is probably a job description unique to Japan.)
Mihiro stars as Lin, the owner of a Dumpling Restaurant that specialises in ancient Chinese Tougen Dumplings, and everyone wants to know the secret to her recipe. Including the police who have noticed a population decline in the restaurant's vicinity. You can probably guess where this is heading.
Mihiro picked up the secret when she apprenticed to an old Chinese martial arts dude called Master Hoi (played hilariously by Kesuke), who looks just like you would imagine an old chinese martial arts dude to look. And being a really old geezer with a sexy young apprentice, naturally his training methods include getting her naked and er ... stuff.
But that's just part of the fun to be had - you'll also get over-the-top brutality (played for laughs), severed body parts, gory deaths, rape, and even some drunken boxing thrown in. Like many classic asian exploitation movies, it has everything but the kitchen sink. Despite the aforementioned content, it really is a comedy!
I can't wait to see what director Koji Kawano comes up with next, and hopefully he'll be given a bigger budget to work with for his next outing.
Summary: A rollicking good time despite the low-budget limitations, if you are a fan of Japanese exploitation this is a must-own movie. As far as exploitation movies go, I'd rate it a solid 8/10.